This year, according to our tradition, my family went to the movie theatre on Thanksgiving Day to see the latest holiday blockbuster. This year the film of choice was Disney’s “Moana.” I hadn’t heard much before going to it; all I knew was it was Disney’s first princess film to not include a romance plot and that it received a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I was hooked from the opening song that began over the classic Disney castle. The Hawaiian words in “Tulou Tagaloa” were sung in a same chilling way as Swahili did in “The Lion King.”
The movie was filled with adventure, vibrant colors, magic, danger, music, and of course adorable animal sidekicks. I was filled with goosebumps the entire time, especially during a soft, soothing song sung by Moana titled “Know Who You Are.” She sings:
I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are
The whole movie I felt a little silly interjecting stories of the Biblical narrative into the film. Moana is able to part the seas (Moses), her grandmother tells a creation narrative that parallels the account told in Genesis, and then this song when echoes Isaiah 43.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
The whole movie is about Moana discovering her identity, and in the end I think she learns that identity comes from knowing others and being known. Isn’t that what we gain when our identity is rooted in the Lord? We are loved by our heavenly Father who has created us, formed us, and calls us by name. He chooses us, empowers us, and protects.
I’m not Princess Moana; I don’t think the ocean has chosen me for a special mission, and I don’t expect to run into Maui the demigod any time soon. Yet, I still want to be like Moana. I want to be someone who works on behalf of others, showing them that they are known and loved.